Snana-yatra at M'ment St Andre

View more photos here
Snana Yatra is the bathing festival of Lord Jagannath, celebrated on the Purnima (full moon day) of the month of Jyeshtha. On that day King Indradyumna installed Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Maharani thousands of years ago in Jagannath Puri, India.

Thus Snana yatra is the anniversary of their Lordships on this planet.

Mauritius has celebrated the Snana Yatra festival since a few years on a small scale at the Sri Jagannath Mandir located at Morcellement St André. In order to increase the glories of the Lord, the devotees at the preaching centre decided to organise the festival on a large scale. This year the festival was thus held in a tent on 25th and 26th of June.

On Friday the 25th, the Utsav Deities were brought in the tent which was located about five minute walk from the Morcellement St. Andre Preaching Centre. The Devotees wanted to recreate the atmosphere of the original Jagannath temple on the hilltop of Niladri so theylaboured for a few days to decorate the tent with a backdrop of mountains and a waterfall.

The program started with greeting and kirtan at 7 p.m. His Grace Makhan Chor Prabhu gave a nectarean class on the pastimes of Sri Jagannath. At 9 p.m. the Gurukul students of Morcellement St André presented a half-hour sketch on one pastime which took place at the Sri Jagannath Mandir of Mayapur. The pastime was about a muslim couple who had two children, both born blind. They followed various expensive treatments and were still not cured. After visiting the Sri Jagannath Mandir, they were miraculously cured within a few days. The sketch was enacted with so much devotion that it moved many guests to tears. The sketch was followed by arati.
Saturday the 26th was the main festival day. At 2.30 p.m. all the Deities, comprising the large Deities as well as utsava Deities of Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Maharani, Sudarshan, Gaura Nitai and Garudadev were brought in a procession from the Preaching Centre to the tent. Kirtan was then carried out by Sankirtan Prabhu.

At around 3.30 p.m. abhisek led by Makhan Chor Prabhu started for Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Maharani, Sudarshan. Both large Deities and the Utsava Deities were first smeared by scent oil and then by a paste made from sesame seeds. They were then bathed with various cow items, namely, ghee, milk, yoghurt, cow dung and cow urine, and by ghee, sweetened water and Ganges water. The public and devotees who reserved kalashes (special containers of sacred water) were then invited to come on stage to bath the Utsava Deities with Ganges water mixed with pancamrita.

Abhisek was followed by lecture by Makhan Chor prabhu who related pastimes related to Snana yatra and the Hati vesh (elephant pastime). The lecture was followed by a 35 minute sketch carried out by devotees from the Sri Jagannath Mandir Preaching Centre. The artists, dressed in the appropriate costumes, performed the pastimes of the appearance of Their Lordships at Jagannath Puri.

After the entertaining sketch, the arati ceremony was performed. That arati was a unique event – devotees and the public, around 800 in number, got the darshan of their Lordships in the Hati Vesh. There was a roaring kirtan led by Raghunath Prabhu.
After arati, the Deities were brought back to the preaching centre in a spectacular procession. The main road in that villag was filled with dancing devotees and guests. Their Lordships were placed on Their altar in the Preaching Centre and the curtain was drawn. Devotees and guests returned to the tent accompanied by kirtan. There was a sadness in their heart: Their Lordships would not give darshan to them for around two weeks due to Their enacting the pastime of being sick. But everyone was looking forward to see the Lord of the universe on the 17th of July 2010 during the next big event – the Annual Ratha Yatra.

Madangopal dasa